Peggy Nobes MSwDev

Software developer Peggy Nobes shares her insights after deciding on a new path in her career.

Where did you grow up?

Peggy pictured in front of a wood wall.I was born in Canada and my family moved to Christchurch when I was three years old. I grew up in Christchurch and it will always be what I think of first when asked where I’m from. Even when I went back to Canada to do my undergraduate degree at the University of Western Ontario, after 2 years I decided I’d rather come back home to finish my degrees at the University of Canterbury.

Why did you choose Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington for your Master of Software Development?

I had moved to Wellington a couple of years earlier, and I really like this little city so when I decided to look at options to make my next career move I knew I wanted to stay here. I loved that Victoria University of Wellington offered one-year Master’s programmes in software development so I could study something vocational in the place I’ve chosen as my home town.

How would you describe your student experience?

It was a small class, so I got to know people really well and had great support from the teachers. There was a lot of class camaraderie and we helped each other out with assignments so I never felt like I had to do everything on my own.

What’s your strongest / best memory of studying at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington?

The Wellington ICT Graduate School staff organised a bunch of different things to help us connect to people currently working in the industry. The talks every Friday, a mentorship programme, and the internship at the end were highlights that helped me understand what it would actually be like to work in the industry.

What was the most useful thing you learnt at university?

One of the great things about this programme is there were no closed book exams. It was all assignments and reports, which was a great way to prepare for the real world, where knowing how to look up the answers to new problems is far more important than memorising anything by rote.

What sorts of opportunities did studying open up for you?

The final portion of the course is a three-month internship. I was lucky to be able to do my internship with Signify Ltd, a web development company based in Wellington. It overlapped with the pandemic, which made things more challenging than we could have expected, but taught me more about actually working in development than any course could have.

What have you been doing since graduating?

At the end of the internship, Signify invited me to stay on as a permanent developer. I have been getting back into the rhythm of a full-time job, dealing with pandemic stresses, and trying to find balance again after a really weird year.

Have you kept any connections with the University?

There are staff I still feel close to, who I know I could catch up with any time, and I’ve stayed in contact with some of my fellow students. I’ll always be grateful to the University for the opportunities it brought my way.

What is your current job and what do you love about it?

I am a software developer. I love solving problems and making things. When it’s an issue with an existing system, you get to dig through the depths of how it all works to figure out what’s wrong and then make it better. With new projects, you start with nothing, talk a whole lot to figure out what people actually need, and then get to create something out of thin air (on the backs of decades of other developers who built the foundation for me, of course).

What’s been a highlight of your career so far?

I moved around a lot of different jobs before focusing on software development. I would say there are two highlights of my career so far, and one is really the times I wasn’t focused on career progression. I travelled, I studied, I lived overseas for a few years—these are all opportunities I think I would have missed out on if I had been very career focused immediately out of undergrad. I got to build value in myself and in my life that wasn’t career focused. The second area that stands out is that whatever role I was in I was able to improve processes and outcomes. I often came into jobs that had some kind of chaos or messy systems and I helped to make those things work better. I was making other people’s jobs easier, fixing problems, having a positive impact on some small piece of the world.

What would you like to say to people who have just graduated from the University?

You don’t have to have everything figured out. It’s okay to just take the job that’s there right now, even if you’re not sure it’s the ‘right’ one. You will learn things from absolutely any job you take, even if it’s just things like how to focus on life outside of work, or how to deal with different people, or what you don’t want to do with your life. And it’s okay to change your mind. We get sold this idea that you have to find the one career for you, but you can have as many as you want. You can quit your job and go back to learn a completely different skillset a decade after you thought you were done with study. Or you can stick with the job that’s just a job, but it lets you do all the other, non-job things that make you happy. If you know what you want to do with your life, then great; but if you don’t, don’t worry. You don’t need to know where you’re going to decide what step to take right now.